While running for a local leather title, I was asked what kind of fundraising event would I like to produce. I came up with a walk, much like the AIDSWalk, where those people walking would collect pledges from friends, family, and coworkers - the beneficiary being the S.F. AIDS Emergency Fund. The big difference with LeatherWalk is that participants dress in leather, full dress leather or just enough to be "street legal". LeatherWalk is also a celebration of pride for the leather community in San Francisco, as LeatherWalk kicks off Leather Pride Week, which culminates the following Sunday with the Folsom Street Fair. LeatherWalk has always had the same primary route: beginning on Castro Street, marching down Market Street and ending up SoMa at the Eagle Tavern. Rest stops at various bars along the way have been incorporated, allowing the walkers a chance to catch a quick beverage before walking on.
The first year of LeatherWalk, 1992, there were about 35 of us, and we stayed primarily on the sidewalk. As it's popularity (and notoriety) grew, so did the number of participants, and so did the amount of donations collected. Last year's LeatherWalk garnered over $22,000, with over 300 people walking. We now take a full lane in the street, legally of course. Through the years, the beneficiary has remained the same, being the AIDS Emergency Fund. In 1999/2000(?), the AEF was establishing a subsidiary, the Breast Cancer Emergency Fund. To help the BCEF get jump-started, walkers were asked to have sponsors donate to either the AEF and/or the BCEF. Now the money collected is split between the two entities.
I produced and directed the LeatherWalk for the first 6 years. Sensing that fresh ideas were needed to keep the LeatherWalk popular and hopefully let it grow, a 3-man committee took over the reins for the 7th LWalk. One of the committee members, Grant Dupont, then produced the event for the next 2 LWalks. When Grant died, a new producer was needed. That's when Sandy "Mama" Reinhardt and her leather "family" stepped up and took control. This year's LWalk will be the 4th produced by Mama and Family. Because LeatherWalk has been so successful at raising much-needed donations for the AEF/BCEF, and because of the amount of work involved producing the event, it has been honored on numerous occasions by the S. F. Board of Supervisors as well as the California Assembly by then Assembly member, Carol Migden.
This year's LeatherWalk is on Sunday, September 21. Come join us. It's a leisurely 2-mile mostly downhill walk through the streets of San Francisco. And we will welcome you if you are not a member of the leather community. If you want to feel more a part of the group, wear a leather belt or leather shoes. It's for a great cause.
Click here to download a Pledge Sheet (This is last years pledge sheet, but you can still use it!)